Lowell Davis, 97, stands in front of some of the trophies he won for horseshoe pitching. He won three Open Men's Championships, seven Elder Men's Championships and the Northwest Horseshoe Championship in Washington. Aliya Hall/The Chronicle
CRESWELL – At 97, veteran and longtime resident Lowell Davis is still going strong. He doesn't have to take any prescribed medication and it only cost him $20 last year for health-related services.
”I've been very fortunate in being in mostly good health all my life,” he said. ”I've been active and I had a stroke, but I was still pitching horseshoes until I was 90 years old.”
Davis has been a Creswell resident for 59 years. Along with being a champion horseshoer, he served in the Navy during World War II and worked as a tree cutter in the coastal range for 36 years.
Davis grew up in Lorane. After his mother died, he followed his father to Corvallis, but three months before his 21st birthday, Davis enlisted in the military with his best friend. The two traveled to Boston by train; he said that when they left California it was 80 degrees and when they stopped in Boston, it was snowing.
As it turned out, cold weather was the theme of his military experience. While his friend went to the South Pacific, he was sent to Alaska where he served as a Navy gunner's mate on the U.S.S. Prairie and U.S.S. Porter.
”You don't want to go there; it's the worst weather in the world,” he said, noting that there was a metal sign on the deck that he would see every time he went to his post warning soldiers that if they fell overboard, the ship wouldn't pick them up.
”It's just seconds that it's so cold that you're no more,” he explained, ”so you're very careful. But other places were worse, like on the front lines and in the trenches.”
Davis served for three and a half years before the war ended in 1945. Afterwards, he didn't want to do anything for a year, but after six months he got stir crazy. He moved back to Corvallis and worked for his father and brother as a tree cutter.
”It was dangerous and it was hard work, but when you're in the military you don't make much, and I was making a lot more money there,” he said.
When he was 26 and out of the service, Davis married his wife, Ethel. They had two kids, Toni and Dan, and a stepson named Darrell. Davis said that Ethel had been a smoker since she was in school, and she struggled to quit; she died at 68.
”I told her a couple of times that I would start smoking and she said, 'No! No, you're not,'” he said with a laugh.
Before she died, the two would compete in horseshoe-pitching competitions. Davis competed for 55 years and in that time he played in five world tournaments throughout the United States and Canada, won three Open Men's Championships, seven Elder Men's Championships and the Northwest Horseshoe Championship in Washington.
He only stopped competing seven years ago after he had a stroke.
Although he said he has lived an active lifestyle and cared for his body, he still lived through a couple of bad car wrecks in his lifetime.
”When I was working, there were several times that my life was in the balance,” he said.
Now, at 97, while he would like to live to be 100, he has one other personal milestone in mind that he'd like to accomplish.
”I was thinking my goal has always been to be as old as my great-grandma,” he said. ”She died on her birthday when she was 98.”